The Big News: There’s a new Raw general manager, and what a general manager he is.
John Cena came out to start the show. He said that he knew there would be consequences for hitting Batista, and told Batista he could come out and settle the matter. Batista made his entrance in a Wes Unseld throwback since he’s from DC. Of course, that’s the only Bullets throwback anyone wears. If he really wants to show his DC ties he should sport a Bernard King throwback next time.
Batista said he watched the tape and knew that Cena hitting him was an accident. Thank goodness Batista isn’t averse to violence like SoCal Val. Batista said he likes and respects Cena, and that after he wins the title he will give the first shot to Cena. Cena responded that Batista has already had two shots so he shouldn’t necessarily get the next shot. Batista said CM Punk doesn’t have what it takes to beat him and neither does Cena. Cena suggested Batista vs. Cena for Raw.
Shane McMahon came out, and said that the new Raw GM would be announced later in the show. He said the GM made a match between Punk and the hottest free agent in the business. Oh my God. They stole Fedor from Affliction. Hopefully they don’t have to negotiate a new deal to get him to appear on next week’s show. The new GM also made Cena and Batista vs. JBL and Kane.
I really liked this opening segment. I liked that the wrestlers were in some stage between wanting to kill each other and being best friends, since it feels more real and it allows for more of a story arc. I also liked the fact that Batista had a rational reaction to what happened last week and that the tensions between Batista and Cena felt natural. I also would have liked the fact they teased Batista vs. Cena and didn’t deliver on Raw, but delivering at SummerSlam is only marginally better.
Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix beat D-Lo Brown and Kelly Kelly. Santino hit a neck breaker on D-Lo and went for a fireman carry. He couldn’t get D-Lo up, so Beth tagged in and lifted him up to the shock of Santino. Kelly tagged in and hit punches and kicks until Beth cut her off with a back breaker. Santino asked to tag in, and rolled up Kelly for the win. Santino celebrated heartily, but an awkward situation developed when he hugged Beth. As Santino started to leave the ring, Beth pulled him back in by the hair and kissed him. I love this angle.
Shane McMahon and JBL met backstage. JBL asked Shane how Vince is doing, but Shane just asked JBL what he wanted. JBL said that Batista and John Cena don’t deserve the next title shot against CM Punk. Instead, JBL suggested the title shot should be his. Shane told him to take it up with the new GM, at which point he received a call from said GM who had changes to be made to a match.
Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes beat Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole. Hacksaw Jim Duggan was to be Lawler’s tag team partner, but the new GM changed the match. I guess that made Dusty Rhodes, Ted DiBiase and Jim Ross “suspects” for the new GM position. All, incidentally, would have been better than the ultimate selection.
Lawler fought off Rhodes and DiBiase with punches. Rhodes hit a bulldog off the second rope, but Lawler came back with punches. He went for the piledriver on Rhodes, but DiBiase broke it up. Cole tried to help Lawler up, but the referee said this constituted a tag. Rhodes pulled Cole into the ring, and hit the clothesline of death on Cole. Cole was never heard from again.
Kofi Kingston beat Jamie Noble. Mike Adamle came out to do commentary, which of course led to the return of Jamaican Me Crazy. Noble before the match said that he is the rising star of Raw and that he would prove he is the ideal Intercontinental champion to his “part-time girlfriend associate kind of girl” Layla. He challenged Coffee Kingston to a match. Noble hit a body slam, a move which Adamle didn’t appear to know the name of. Kingston used a side Ghanan leg sweep, high leg drop and trouble in paradise for the pin.
CM Punk beat the returning William Regal. Punk used some knees early while Regal fired back with punches and kicked Punk’s head into the post. Punk bled from the nose, and Regal followed with punches, kicks, a full nelson and a cobra clutch. Regal hit an awesome looking move that looked kind of like a dragon suplex into an exploder, but Punk moments later hit the GTS for the pin.
After the match JBL came into the ring and ended up laying out Punk after an unintended distraction from Kane. This was a really fun short match. When Regal is motivated, he is really great. He also has a style that’s different from just about all other WWE wrestlers, which is a big positive for him.
Chris Jericho and Lance Cade hosted the final episode of the Highlight Reel. Jericho said that he has taken his life to a different level. He was a showman for most of his career because that’s what he thought people wanted. He became a talk show host rather than world champion. Jericho said he won’t follow that route any more, and that he is embarrassed by his comic past.
Jericho said that what he did to Michaels was better than the rest of his career combined, and what he did to Michaels he did to the fans. Cade added that his career was floundering before Jericho saved it. He added that he will be forever grateful to Jericho. Jericho concluded by saying he deserves a title shot. Jericho’s turn has been very carefully and thoughtfully constructed. I hope it works.
Mickie James beat Jillian Hall. Jim Ross joined the announce team, making it a three man booth. Jillian hit a handspring elbow, neck breaker, and applied the dragon sleeper. Mickie won with a Thesz press and implant DDT. After the match, Katie Lea jumped Mickie in front of her father who was in attendance. Katie said that she would be the next women’s champion and Paul Burchill would be the next Intercontinental champion.
John Cena and Cryme Tyme met backstage. Cryme Tyme told Cena that he can’t trust Batista. Batista showed up and told Cena to stay out of his way in the main event. With a hat tip to Houston Mitchell, what I’d like to see with Cryme Tyme and Cena is for JBL to offer to buy off Cryme Tyme to turn on Cena, since they’re all about the money. Cryme Tyme then demonstrate their integrity by refusing to do so. It’s a natural story that would get Cryme Tyme over more as faces and establish more strongly the partnership they’re trying to create with Cryme Tyme and Cena.
John Cena and Batista beat JBL and Kane. The heels worked over Cena. Cena came back with a DDT and tagged Batista. Batista used punches, clotheslines and a spine buster on JBL. However, Kane pulled down the ropes as Batista was bouncing off. The heels then worked over Batista. JBL went for the clothesline from hell but Batista caught him with a spear. JBL accidentally punched Kane, so Kane grabbed JBL by the throat. In the midst of this chaos, Cena tagged in and used the FU on Kane for the pin.
After the match, Shane McMahon announced that the new general manager of Raw was in fact, Mike Adamle. Maybe they were determined to use an American Gladiators host and couldn’t come to terms with Hulk Hogan. Or Laila Ali. Or they signed Laila Ali to be GM but they told her they already had someone with that name so she would have to be Sonya “Rocket” Buster and she quit. In any event, Adamle announced Cena vs. Batista for SummerSlam.
For the most part, I really enjoyed this show. I liked the angles, the wrestling and the humor. I didn’t like the ending, however. First, there’s the Mike Adamle as GM thing. My thinking on this is that Adamle has been turned into such a goofy character that it is likely to hinder serious angles when he is playing the role of GM. But we will see how he does, as there isn’t much to suggest how he as a performer will do.
The second and bigger issue to me is putting together Cena vs. Batista at SummerSlam. When I first got into wrestling, the big appeal was larger than life confrontations that felt special and important. Cena vs. Batista is one of those rare matches that they haven’t done. It’s two of their biggest stars, and two guys that rose up at basically the same time. Built properly, they could make this into a huge deal.
Instead, they are putting the match together with little thought and three weeks build. If they built this match slowly over time, it’s the sort of thing that could eventually become a really big deal. If I could wave the magic wand and change one thing about the nature of WWE booking, it would be to infuse the writing team with an interest in long term build. And this Batista-Cena program is the perfect example.